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Off piste resort recommendation

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Need some resort advice for this years trip.

Coming from the US, the last two years we have done zermatt and st anton. Our criteria are generally:

1. Relatively easy access from Zurich or Geneva
2. European "charm"
3. Good, easily accessible off piste terrain

Both resorts were fantastic but particularly last year in st anton we felt many of the guided off piste routes we took resulted in bus rides, taxi cabs, or long hikes. Not only that, most of the runs turned to poor snow quality by the lower 1/3 of the run.

So for this year, the goal is to find somewhere with off piste that is more easily accessible from lifts and does not require such long return journeys. We hire guides so do not intend to go off piste alone but as spoiled American skiers I guess we just don't want to work as hard for it.

Val disere or verbier seem to fit the bill but a, nervous about the lack of ambiance relative to zermatt and arlberg.

Given these concerns, any recs?

Thanks!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@skiandgolfnut, Verbier.

I don’t know when and where you were in St Anton last season but I was there throughout the season and saw no poor snow all the way from early season to Easter the big routes were in great shape. If you know where and equally as important when to go in the day there’s no need for taxis and buses either, apart from Langen and Maroi/ Verwall but they’re worth it as a one off. Regards lift access that’s one of the true Freeride plus’s of Arlberg. Don’t know who your guide was.....
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skiandgolfnut wrote:

2. European "charm"

Val disere or verbier seem to fit the bill but a, nervous about the lack of ambiance relative to zermatt and arlberg.

Your choice but I wouldn't be prioritising the charm/ambience. I would go Val D'Isere. If you are with a guide they will take you to some great places. Maybe consider Italy also.

skiandgolfnut wrote:
3. Good, easily accessible off piste terrain

Both resorts were fantastic but particularly last year in st anton we felt many of the guided off piste routes we took resulted in bus rides, taxi cabs, or long hikes.

You gotta earn your turns! And some of the best routes end up in a long stick out or a bus ride. It's the nature of the beast.

skiandgolfnut wrote:
Not only that, most of the runs turned to poor snow quality by the lower 1/3 of the run.

Last season was one of the best for a long time. I skied two separate weeks at the @rse ends of the season in France and had great snow top to bottom. So either your expecations are overly high or you were very unlucky.
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Verbier/4V is nice, but Arlberg has more off-piste (and much more piste, 4V is the biggest km-piste cheater of the Alps), much more snow and much more charm.
Might have been a warm week maybe? And Lech is much more central to the area than St.Anton...
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We were there mid March. Generally speaking snow quality was excellent. It was more that the routes the guide chose for us would descend into the valleys so we could catch a ride. So the lower thirds of the runs would turn crusty. Very well could be a product of having a guide that chose to guide us in that's style. It just seemed like too much traveling for too few runs. Arlberg was amazing though.

Definitely agree with earn the turns but I have an older father that while he can still ski well off piste, just cant spend all that energy getting to and from.
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Have another week at Arlberg, stay in Lech Toofy Grin
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When I said we stayed in st anton should have specified we stayed in stuben which we loved. Based on all the exploring we did, if we went back wed either do stuben again, loved it, or lech which seemed suited to us too.

Life is short and the bucket list is long which is why we like to mix it up Very Happy
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@skiandgolfnut, I'd go to Val D'Isere if I was you. However, bear in mind I ski mostly in France, though I have skied the Arlberg (out of Stuben) and Austria a bit too.

In terms of ambience it's not a bad looking place and quite lively.
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It’s probably worth bearing in mind that off piste with a guide in Europe is a slightly different concept from in inbounds powder skiing in North America. In Europe, most seasons if you get some powder during your one week at a resort, you are happy. If you get powder from top to bottom of a big off piste run (say, 1200m+ vertical), well, that doesn’t happen often and if you get that in your one week, you have struck gold. Remember, you’re looking at 10* celcius temperature difference from top to bottom on a run like that.
Back to your question, Engelberg and Andermatt would be worth considering. If you don’t like walking, taking taxis etc, tell your guide clearly. You will risk missing out on the good stuff though, particularly if it hasn’t snowed for a while
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There is a direct trade off between snow quality and the amount of effort spent getting onto the route, combat skiing in the exit or hassle in returning to the resort. If it's worth doing, there's always a price.

Stuff that is easily accessible in the Alps tracks immediately and may well be skied when conditions are dangerous (e.g. Vallon d'Arbi in Verbier). That's not a problem that's going to get any better.

That said, I think the best bet for long off piste descents that do not involve excessive return hassle are either Alpe d'Huez where reverse heli skiing is possible and la Plagne, where the big descents kick you out either in Champagny or close-ish to the Vanoise Express.

Andermatt is great but getting back to the main lift from Hospental is a faff. The poling return out of the Giraffe and Hans im Gluck are also lengthy. Disentis is also great but it faces south and the return to the resort from some of the better routes is not fast (Val Strem - takes best part of a day).
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@gorilla, come on you know you really mean Verbier... I don’t remember many tracks?
http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=63496

@skiandgolfnut, was even better last year. A picture is worth a thousand words

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=132925&start=200

This was Feb conditions. Page forward or back for Jan or March/April. Can’t guarantee that next season but in Verbier a guide will usually be able to find you untracked snow and nowhere matches the terrain
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Chamonix? Bourg St Maurice - and pick & choose which resorts you ski in?
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Op,
You're spot on. I was in St Anton for my 10th + time, during mid March last year. Warth is great, but the rest of the resort is relatively low lying and we got some horrendous viz over 8+ days of skiing.

Val is really hard to beat as an all road resort, it's probably the best imho. Verbier is also tops. Guided trips in Northern Italy are also hard to beat. Finally, if you'd like something radical, La Grave is a bucket list must for a true off piste skier imho. (make sure you're flying fit)
A ski safari of 5 days in La Grave & 5 days in Val (or Northern Italy) would be simply awesome imho.
Enjoy gravity!!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
The one area that fits the bill that I haven't seen mentioned specifically is Monte Rosa. If off-piste is the clear priority then I might go for Alagna over Gressoney or Champoluc but any would do. The big descents (as much as 2000m vertical) down to Alagna involve some long ski outs but not hikes or buses as I remember.

Chamonix is an obvious choice of course although the atmosphere is perhaps more "drama" than "charm" (not worse for that just different). And some of the classic descents do require a bit of effort on exit.

While it's true that last season was great for snow levels at altitude it was often quite mild with rain low down so I understand why you found the bottom of runs not so great. That said, I agree with some of the others that you should expect to get exciting terrain and dramatic scenery but treat powder as upside.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Completely agree with all the above, especially MarkyMark. We were in St Anton for 13 weeks last season and it was one of our best. I think a short taxi ride is a small price to pay for great off piste and if you’re prepared to walk a little then the sky’s the limit. And I hate walking up !
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
horgand wrote:
Op,
Warth is great, but the rest of the resort is relatively low lying


Warth is 1500-2000 meters max, whilst Arlberg goes up to 2800 meters....Strange comment
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1. Verbier = best liftserved offpiste in world.
2. Chamonix = best offpiste in world.
3. Hakuba Cortina = best offpiste / onpiste powder in world.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@skiandgolfnut,

If you can ski Arlberg POW you can ski anything...

Your never get the High Altitude Dry Colorado/Utah POW in Europe...but you will get decent long descents

Arlberg will be your best choice in Europe...
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Fly into Geneva and head through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Italy to Champoluc and ski the Monterosa area. Lovely village, even if it’s not quite on the Zermatt charm scale, with a the bonus of good value Italian grub and hospitality. Heli skiing available, subject to weather. If you can’t face the drive, take a look at Ski-2 https://ski2champoluc.com/about-ski-2/ who will sort the whole trip out and provide transfers from Geneva- about 3 hours.

Val D’Isere is not completely soulless so definitely worth a look.

However, I’m giving a shout out for the Trois Vallées. For charm, stay in St Martin de Belleville (where Mr P and I will be renting again for the season), a lovely village that is far more charming than any other in the 3V, loads of lift accessed off piste and easy connections to the whole 3V ski area.https://en.st-martin-belleville.com.
it’s fair to say that not all of the 3v resorts architecture ooze charm, but a good guide should get you away from the masses and St M is a great place to chill out at the end of the day. Very Happy (See you in the. Pourquoi Pas? Bar wink )


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Thu 25-10-18 17:59; edited 1 time in total
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Perty, any pointers to easy offpiste in St Martin de Belleville?
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@mooney058, yup! Top of St Martin 2 lift, turn left towards Jerusalem and then drop off to the left anywhere really from the Liberty Ride area to the top of Jerusalem. Plenty of options down the rolling summer pastures back towards St M.
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Why have I been going to Klosters/Davos for the last 20 years ?? Because there is a superb amount of off-piste which a local Guide will know and love to show you. Sure, it means using the train and buses and a bit of walking across Davos, but the variety is huge. It doesn't have brown trouser steeps but there is off-piste from all the 5 stations in the valley ( 6 counting Pischa) .
You get best if you can unclip the heel and skin (gently) sometimes (never more than an hour). The off piste stays untracked much longer than in the resorts so far mentioned as relatively few use it. You can make journeys of half a day on skis, like to Gargellan, over the Austrian border, and St Antonien via a remote and super valley. I could fill half a page.
If you could get local Guide Martin Reuttli you would be lucky. He is in demand. And you wouldn't get in on WEF week, which begins about 20th Jan as all the hotels make hay with the diplomats from around the world on mega-expenses.
Your stay could be in the quietish Klosters (pleasant village ) or the noisier Davos ( 2 mile long town ). The train and busses are included in the liftpass.
In Klosters avoid the Cresta but the other hotels are good, if pricey.
In Davos there are at least 2 Sunstar group hotels which are always good.
You fly to Zurich and the transfer is about 2.5 hours by good trains.
I am there 12-19 Jan and wouldn't miss it for anything. WE use the Sunstar Albeina in Klosters Dorf but it is a quiet spot 3 mins train away from Klosters Platz and I would like you to have a bit more apres so am not pushing that.
Why am I telling people this. I should keep quiet. Puzzled
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Langerzug wrote:
horgand wrote:
Op,
Warth is great, but the rest of the resort is relatively low lying


Warth is 1500-2000 meters max, whilst Arlberg goes up to 2800 meters....Strange comment


Ok Warth is & was great cos it is much quieter than Lech which itself is normally a good bit quieter than St Anton, and Warth also has some fabulous, barely touched, off piste bowls, several of which are served with multiple brand new lift infrastructure.... So all told, a winning combination really.

The whole resort (i.e. St Anton ski areas) is a little low lying though, (with the majority skiing between 1500 to 2200 m) so while the area is more northerly than say Chamonix & Val D'Isere, & hence it's official snow record reads well, it's a little low and hence snow quality and pure vertical does not stack up imho.

And as they say in the eurovision,
"that concludes the vote from the Irish jury."
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